In any case, things are what they are. Self-pity, as we’ve seen, certainly stands as a natural and compelling human vice. Its current cultural appeal, however, translates into nothing good.
Here’s some encouraging news: If you’re with me on this, we’re not alone — and when it comes to constant outrage, we might be nearing a tipping point. Witness celebrity professor Jordan Peterson, a clinical psychologist best known for offending and outraging large numbers of people on television and the Internet over various fraught topics like transgender pronouns, gender roles, and identity politics. If you haven’t heard of Dr. Peterson, you probably eventually will: This week, he released a book that’s already shot to the top of Amazon’s new releases, titled “12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos.”
“No one trying to understand how to live should read this book,” wrote Julian Baggini in a review at the Financial Times. “Anyone interested in the growing assault on liberal values, however, should study it with fear and trembling.” This is a fascinating critique, given that no matter what you think about Peterson’s opinions on various topics — and there are many, ranging from proper posture to child-rearing to evolution to Communist propaganda posters to the work of Carl Jung — Peterson’s most consistent position centers on one of the most precious “liberal values” of all: free speech.